Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Noah's Flood and the Black Sea Flood has a very good article on the flood and the Black Sea flood. Here are a few excerpts:

Two senior scientists from Columbia University have proposed a theory that a massive transfer of water occurred about 5600 BCE - over seven and a half millennia ago. They wrote: "Ten cubic miles of water poured through each day, two hundred times what flows over Niagara Falls." "The Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least three hundred days." 60,000 square miles of land were inundated. 1 The Black Sea shoreline significantly expanded to the north and east. The lake's its water level was raised many hundreds of feet. It changed from a fresh-water landlocked lake into a salt water lake connected to the world's oceans.

They have drawn on the findings of experts in agriculture, archaeology, genetics, geology, language, development of textiles and pottery, etc. They postulate that this deluge had catastrophic effects on the people living on the shore of the Black Sea. It triggered mass migrations across Europe and into the Near East, Middle East and Egypt. It may have been the source of many flood stories in the area. Some researchers believe that the story of Noah's flood in the Biblical book of Genesis is a myth that had its origin in this cataclysmic event.

Did the Noahic flood story originate in the Black Seas event?

As noted above, conservative Christians generally believe that God prevented the authors of Genesis from making any errors in writing. They believe that the Noahic flood must have happened precisely as the Bible says. The story was derived from the events of a world-wide flood, circa 2350 BCE. It was not based on a local flood of the Black Sea in the 6th millennium BCE. To many conservative Christians, the 6th millennium BCE did not exist, since they believe that the world was created circa 4004 BCE.

Many mainline Christians, liberal Christians, secularists and others are open to the theory that the Genesis flood story was not based on an actual, world-wide flood. Archaeologists have found two truly ancient versions of the flood story which were written down "over two millennia after the [Black Sea] event:"

One in Sumerian "the language of the first known writing, a language with no known roots and no known descendants" and

The other In Akkadia, "one of the ancient tongues of the Semitic language group to which the Arabic dialects and Hebrew belong."

Linguists are able to trace elements of languages back before they were first written down. William Ryan and Walter Pitman claim that "It is possible through linguistics to tie these people together, with speakers of other languages at about the time of the flood and to the region of the Black Sea." 6

The Babylonian flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh is generally regarded as having been derived from these earlier flood stories. The Epic dates back to the third millennium BCE. The Epic, in turn, appears to be a main source of the flood stories in Genesis. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, there were originally two stories written in Hebrew by two unknown authors, called "J" and "P." These were interleaved into the single Genesis account by a redactor (editor) called "R." There are about 20 points of similarity between the Bible story and the flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh. 5 The Hebrew version is a monotheistic re-writing of the original Babylonian polytheistic text.

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